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November 21, 2012

Spreading thanks: Light House Mission distributes Thanksgiving baskets

TERRE HAUTE — Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for giving thanks for the abundance around us.

But that can be difficult to do when cupboards are bare and there are hungry mouths to feed.

That’s why Terre Haute’s Light House Mission is once again providing Thanksgiving baskets to the community’s neediest people.

On Tuesday, dozens of people, some with children, some with disabilities, lined up outside the mission on Wabash Avenue to await their free basket of food for the holiday.

In all, the Light House Mission gave away more than 1,600 Thanksgiving baskets Monday and Tuesday. That’s a little more than last year’s total and several hundred more than were given away in 2010, said Tim Fagg, director of the Light House Mission Ministries.

“I think there’s a greater need” this year, Fagg said as rows of people filed past him to receive their baskets Tuesday afternoon.

The mission will also provide a Thanksgiving dinner to needy people Wednesday and Thursday, he said. Both days, Fagg expects close to 500 people to receive a meal in the mission’s modest dining room.

For Bryan and Kathy Roberts of Terre Haute, the Thanksgiving basket they received was a “Godsend,” Bryan said. The couple recently got custody of four of Kathy’s grandchildren and would not have been able to feed them all without the mission’s help, they said.

Kathy, 49, is on disability and Bryan, 46, is seeking work, he said. This was their first time needing help from the mission, they said.

“God doesn’t put more on your shoulders than you can handle,” Kathy said just before receiving a turkey and all the traditional side dishes in her “basket,” which was actually a paper sack.

The cost of the Thanksgiving giveaway was about $22,000, Fagg said. Because of a drop in food donations, the mission was forced to purchase more food than in year’s past, he said. But no one was turned away.

In addition to the cash and food donations that make the food giveaway possible, the Light House Mission relies on volunteers, Fagg noted. On Monday night, about 120 people worked to assemble baskets, he said. On Tuesday, another 65 to 75 volunteers were helping. Some of the volunteers are residents of Light House Mission, which helps provide food and shelter for homeless people.

“I love doing this,” said Travis Kirkendall, a guest at the Light House Mission who was helping distribute food baskets Tuesday afternoon. Kirkendall, 24, said he spent many years making bad choices, using drugs and alcohol. The mission, where he has lived for about six months, has helped him begin to change his life, he said.

When asked what he is thankful for this season, Kirkendall answered: “I’m actually thankful for this, the mission.”

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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